Wednesday, February 10, 2021

A Slice of Heaven

Mystic Pizza
Director: Donald Petrie
Cast: Julia Roberts, Annabeth Gish, Lili Taylor, Vincent D'Onofrio, Conchata Ferrell
Released: October 21, 1988

This is a movie that follows three Portuguese-American teen girls in the town of Mystic, Connecticut. Julia Roberts, Annabeth Gish, and Lili Taylor play Daisy, Kat, and Jojo, respectively. I'm pretty sure none of them are of Portuguese descent and only Annabeth Gish was a teenager when they filmed this. She was 17, Julia Roberts was 20, Lily Taylor was 21; so at least they were close to being teens. They don't really say how old the girls are supposed to be; it's just that the Netflix description said they were teens. Daisy and Kat are sisters and Jojo is their friend. 

The movie follows the love lives of these three young women as well as their job at the Mystic Pizza where they all work as waitresses and wear different colored shirts that have a picture of a slice of pizza and the restaurant's motto which is "A slice of heaven." So I know there is an actual Mystic Pizza in the Connecticut town, but what I didn't know is that it existed before the movie and that's where the director got the idea for the film. I have a feeling the inside doesn't even look the same as the restaurant in the movie or if it's even in the same location, but I can assume it's a tourist trap! 

Kat is planning to attend Yale next semester after she's saved up money to pay for tuition. She plan to major in astronomy. She was offered a part scholarship and will be starting in February. This movie appears to start in late summer/early fall. She already has two jobs, including working at Mystic Pizza and at the planetarium, and is planning on getting another job. She has an interview to be a baby-sitter/nanny for a four-year-old girl named Phoebe while her dad, Tim, renovates a house from the 1880s. His wife is in England for something, I don't know, the point is they need her out of the country. When Kat meets Tim, she tells him how she's planning on studying astronomy when she attends Yale and he tells her he also went to Yale and graduated in '79 and he met his wife there. While there, the shy Phoebe seems to open up to Kat who reads her a story while Tim is on the phone. Tim is impressed by her (in more ways that one, we'll soon later find out!) and she tells him she's been baby-sitting for another family since she was nine. Um, does that seem young to anyone else to be baby-sitting? I would never hire a nine-year-old to baby-sit my kids. You're still an effin' kid when you're nine! So Tim hires Kat to be Phoebe's baby-sitter and here is our most icky relationship of the movie. Keep in mind that Kat is about to attend college soon, so she's probably 17 or 18. Tim has to be in his early 30s. For a 30-year-old guy (and one that's married with a kid, mind you) to be falling for his kid's teen nanny, ewww, it just makes me feel gross all over. I mean, they don't make it as Tim is some predatory creep who is coming on to Kat; she is very much having the same feelings for him as well even though she knows he's married with a kid and has a good decade on her. I guess she's attracted to him because he's an intellect. I guess this is shown by the huge, unattractive glasses he wears. We see Tim and Phoebe go to the planetarium where Kat is giving a lecture. When Kat sees them come in, she locks eyes with Tim and starts to stutter during her speech. Smooth, Kat. 

There's a super awkward scene where Kat is helping Phoebe get ready for bed and the girl mentions her mom lives in England. Kat assures her that her mom is only working there and she'll be home in a few weeks. Phoebe says, "I know. We're not getting a divorce." It's so weird and it's almost like the girl is telling Kat to back off, but of course she wouldn't know anything about her dad's and Kat's budding relationship; it's not like they haven't done anything except talk in front of the girl. And at this point, they haven't even kissed; there's just been some very mild flirting.Tim has come home at that point and starts to read Phoebe a bedtime story as Kat is getting ready to go home. He's only been reading to his daughter for five seconds when he comes down the stairs before Kat has left and gives her the sweater (the one he was wearing) because he doesn't want her to get cold (she's wearing a polo shirt). A couple of things:

1) Why didn't Kat bring a sweater or jacket with her? I think by this time, it's around September so the days are still warm enough you don't need long sleeves, but I'm sure by the time the sun goes down, it gets a little chilly. She knew she would be leaving when it was dark outside, so surely she knew it would be cold by then! 

2) But really, my main issue is why did Tim have to take off the sweater off his back to give to her? Why not just give her a sweater/jacket from his closet or dresser? It's like, oh, here, let me take off this ugly brown fair isle sweater so you can smell my manly odor since I've been wearing it all day. Ugh... but she takes it and puts it on and they share a moment looking into each other's eyes until Phoebe calls for him and he has to go back upstairs. Kat wears the sweater home and Daisy asks about it. 

Kat starts to get a bit more bold around Tim; I guess since he gave her his sweater, she knows that he likes her. When he comes home one evening, she's out on the front porch looking through the telescope while Phoebe is upstairs, sleeping. He asks her if she wants any soda or juice (hehe, something you would so offer a child or a teen), and she replies that she'll have wine. Girl, stop pretending like you're older than 21. She will also call in to the pizza place, claiming she has to "baby-sit", but of course she's just spending time with Tim.

Kat asks Jojo to baby-sit for Phoebe so she and Tim can have a romantic pizza dinner date in the attic of the house he's refurnishing. Kind of ironic that she's the baby-sitter, but the dad is taking the baby-sitter on a date, so the baby-sitter needs to find a replacement baby-sitter! They end up kissing, and I'm assuming they do more than that though we're just shown them making out. Later, they're in the car driving back to Tim's house and they're both just so in love, kissing and holding hands. It's pouring when they get to the house and Kat is huddled close to Tim while he has his arm around her with his coat over both of them and they're both laughing and smiling as they come barreling through the front door. And guess who is there to greet them? It's Nikki, Tim's wife, who has returned from whatever she was doing in England. Ruh-roh! Luckily, Jojo has a cover story ready, asking Kat how her mother is and if she got her medicine. I don't know how much Nikki is buying this story. Kat's mom being sick explains why Kat wasn't baby-sitting Phoebe that night, but why would Tim be with her? Sure, you could say he was trying to be supportive and there for her and Jojo even explains it away that he was just being nice because what if her mother had died? But then why would they both be laughing and smiling when they enter the house? I think Nikki knows there's nothing wrong with Kat's mother! She has to know something is up. They never really say, but I think she has a hunch. Kat is shell-shocked as Jojo drives her home, but what did she expect? Did she really think this thirty-year-old married man with a daughter was going to leave his wife for a seventeen-year-old? Honestly, this guy should be in jail; he's pretty despicable. Kat is still in shock the next day at work because she takes an uncooked pizza to a table instead of grabbing the cooked one. Tim does try to make things "right" by stopping at the Mystic Pizza with Phoebe in tow telling her that Phoebe wanted to say good-bye to her. He offers her a check to help her with Yale, but it does seem more like he's paying her off. After he leaves, Kat rips up the check much to Jojo's dismay, but Daisy approves of her sister's action, saying that Kat will find another way to pay for Yale. 

Not to spoil anything, but Kat is the only one of the three girls who doesn't have a happy ending with her love interest. You don't think Daisy or Jojo will get happy endings either, but their guys come around in the end, or in Jojo's case, she comes around to her guy.

The opening of the movie begins with Jojo about to be married to her boyfriend, Bill (Vincent D'Onofrio) in a church ceremony. She looks like she's about to be sick and before they can get to their vows, she faints. We don't see any of the aftermath; the next scene shows Jojo is at work at the Mystic Pizza telling her co-workers that she basically got cold feet and couldn't go through with it. She tells them, "I saw myself ten years from now, fat and ugly and all these kids swarming around me and I was picking fish scales out of Bill's boots." (Bill is a fisherman). She mentions that her dad is angry that she didn't get married since he paid $5,000 for the wedding. (Is it me or does that seem like a bargain? Of course, maybe in 1988 that was extreme and it's not like these girls come from families with a lot of money). 

Jojo tells them Bill still isn't talking to her which makes me wonder how many days has it been since the wedding that never took place? Of course, just as soon as she says that, here comes Bill walking into the restaurant! This is the kind of thing that only ever happens in movies! She takes him outside where she apologizes to him and he still wants to get married, but she is hesitant about it. We kind of have a gender role reversal where the guy is the one who wants to get married while the woman doesn't want to commit to her partner, but instead just wants to use him for sex. I'm not sure where Bill lives, but he must have roommates or something because Jojo still lives with her parents and they're (well mostly she is) always trying to find places for them to have sex, including the bathroom at the Mystic Pizza....eww. She also tries to get him to use her sister's apartment when it's revealed that she and her husband will be out of town for three days. He's not interested, though. 

One night, they're going at it on the floor of her living room, but when Bill looks up he sees a bust of a creepy and disapproving Jesus staring right back at him. He tells Jojo he can't continue and she suggests they go to her room and tells him it will be okay because her parents are asleep. He declines, telling her he has to leave. She's still trying to make him stay. He tells her that he loves her and wants them to make a commitment, but she seems more interested in having sex with him. He wants them to get married and she tells him if she hears that word one more time, she's going to scream. Of course "married" is the next word to come out of his mouth and true to her word, she lets out a scream, waking both her parents who come down to find their daughter with her boyfriend who has his pants around his ankles. Jojo's father starts to attack Bill who manages to pull up his pants and run out the door. This scene is played for laughs, even Jojo is laughing about it the next day when she's recounting the story to her friends, but it felt more awkward than anything else. 

Oh, I want to point out something I noticed when they were in her living room that I see in movies and TV shows, but never in real life: the couch has a plastic cover over it. I have never understood the plastic cover over the couch. I guess it's supposed to keep the couch from getting dirty/dusty, but it just looks so tacky! And are you supposed to keep the cover on all the time or take it off when you sit on the couch? But then, if you're sitting on the couch (probably with some sort of snack or drink if you're watching TV), then it's bound to get crumbs on it, so I would assume you just leave the ugly plastic cover on it all the time, right? I'm so confused. I've just never understood it. Like I said, I've never seen this in real life, so is this a movie/TV show thing? I just don't understand why you would buy a couch/chair, then make it super ugly by covering it with plastic. Plus, it can't be comfortable to sit on it! Luckily, this seems like a trend that has seemed to die out! 

Like I mentioned before, Bill is a fisherman and he has a boat he named after Jojo, which she finds very romantic. However, the day after their little tryst at her house, he has covered the word "Jojo" with a sign that says "nympho" and she doesn't find that funny at all. He will later apologize about the sign. They will break up because they're not on the same page about marriage, but in the end, they are not only back together, but it is revealed that they have just gotten married after Jojo tells him that nothing has changed except for her name and the last scene of the movie is the wedding reception held at the Mystic Pizza. (Seems like kind of a small place to hold a wedding reception, but whatever). Jojo makes a joke to her two friends how her mother-in-law asked her when she (Bill's mother) is going to have grandkids and how she (Jojo) has been only married for two hours. Um, Jojo, I'm pretty sure your mother-in-law knows you guys have been doing it for awhile, so it's not out of the realm for you to be pregnant! 

Then we have Daisy and it is easy to see why Julia Roberts became such a big star. This was her first big movie, then she did Steel Magnolias the year after that, then Pretty Women the year after that, then she won her Oscar ten years after that, and the rest, as they say, is history. I can see why she was cast in Pretty Woman because she is very, very pretty. In fact, she pretty much tells her sister that she (Kat) has the brains and she (Daisy) at least has her looks, which her mother will sink her ship by telling her that she won't always look that way.

When Daisy, Kat, and Jojo go to a bar with Bill and a couple of his friends one night, Daisy catches the eye of a young, rich guy who is on a double date with one of his friends. He goes over to a guy shooting darts and makes a bet with him that if he gets three bullseyes in a row, he gets $50, plus he will take a shot between each throw as the guy has instructed. He manages to get the first two in the center and by this time a crowd has gathered around him, including Daisy. As he's taking his shot of tequila before his final throw, he locks eyes with Daisy and then he biffs the last throw. So she literally catches his eye. I guess he was so distracted by her that he missed the last one. 

We will later find out his name is Charlie. His date, Lorna, is dressed as a flight attendant; there's no better way to explain it. His friend's date is dressed like she's from the 1800s: she's wearing a white blouse, a cable knit sweater vest, and a long skirt. Very odd choice of wardrobe for going to the bar. But maybe they wanted to put these girls in frumpy clothes to make Daisy stand out even more, but I don't think you have to do that. Charlie wants to play pool, but Lorna isn't interested, so he asks Daisy if she'll play with him (and his friend and his date). The girlfriend of Charlie's friend takes her turn and misses and her boyfriend tells her, "That's why we play boy-girl. To even things out." Oh my God, what a douche. STFU, dude. But Daisy shows everyone up by being ridiculously good at pool. While all this is going on she's giving sultry looks to Charlie and there's a sexy song with lots of saxophone in it and the lyrics go something like, "It's getting hot in here; I know you feel it and I feel it too." They're laying it on pretty, pretty thick there. [/Larry David voice). 

After the game is finished, Lorna, who is clearly threatened by Daisy, wants to leave and Charlie obliges. I'm still not sure if Lorna was his girlfriend or just a girl he was on a date with. Either way, he's kind of a tool for doing that to her. We'll never see her again after this, anyway. 

We will later find out that Charlie found out where Daisy lives as she comes home one day to find him sitting in the living room with her mother. I'm super confused how he found her. All we know is that Charlie tells her, "You are a very difficult woman to find." I'll say! They didn't even have social media back then and he didn't know her name or address. They never tell us how he found her; I guess it will always remain a mystery. If some guy I just met the other day found where I lived and was sitting in my living room with my mom when I came home, I would be mortified! I assume Charlie told Daisy's mother he was taking her out for dinner because she tells Daisy she didn't know she was going out for dinner.

They go out and Daisy is wearing a new dress we saw her modeling for Kat in an earlier scene. It's a short black strapless dress with a big white bow on the bust. It seems a little cold for this dress considering it's nearing autumn in New England. She tells Kat she plans to return it after she's worn it and she's modeling it on the stairs when her mom is in the kitchen and could come through the door anytime and see her daughter wearing the $160 dress. I guess it's not that cold since she's wearing that dress and they're riding in Charlie's red Porsche convertible. The car ends up getting a flat tire and they have to flag someone down. It doesn't work when he does it, so Daisy tries to be all sexy in her short dress and high heels, but that still doesn't stop traffic. So finally when Charlie drops his pants in front of a car with a bunch of young women, they stop for them. Charming. 

I guess their new friends dropped them off at the restaurant where they have dinner, but I'm not sure how they returned home! During dinner, Charlie tells Daisy he's not at Yale or Harvard or whatever Ivy League school he attends because he "needed a vacation from law school." A few days later, after they've slept together in his parents' bedroom of their summer home, Charlie reveals to Daisy that he actually got kicked out of school because he cheated on his final because he was flunking the course. Daisy tells him he shouldn't have lied. She's glad he told her and tells him, "Don't do it again." This dumbbutt has the gall to ask her if she means cheat or lie. Um, what do you think? I think the two go hand-in-hand. Of course, she replies, "Neither." 

After the episode where Jojo sees the "Nympho" sign on Bill's boat, we see the three girls outside the parking lot of a bar where Bill's truck is parked and Jojo finds a spare key he keeps under his vehicle and they steal his car and drive to the country club while singing "Respect" on full blast. It really makes no sense why they'd want to go to the country club where they sneak around the back and sit on a golf cart and watch the people dancing and eating and mingling through the windows. Not until Daisy and Jojo start dancing the jitterbug on the lawn and Kat is looking through the windows and sees Charlie with a beautiful young blonde woman (who I thought was Lorna at first because they looked very similar) and a few scenes earlier Daisy had told the other girls that Charlie had told her was going to Greenwich to visit his 90-year-old grandmother. Hmmmm......

Kat is trying to get them to leave before Daisy sees him, but of course she spots him. They return to Bill's truck and Daisy starts screaming so loudly that I'm surprised nobody heard her and they didn't send security out! She's literally screaming at the top of her lungs, "I'm gonna kill him! I'm so stupid!" She notices his convertible and asks for the keys. At first I thought she was going to key his car. Then, when she gets into the truck, I thought she was going to ram into his car. But she pulls the truck right in front of the convertible and ends up dumping two huge barrels full of gallons of fish into his car. These things are huge and full of fish and water; there's no way she would have been able to topple them over by herself. Nuh-uh. Not buying it. Charlie and the blonde girl are coming out at this moment and he sees what's just happened to his car. Man, this guy cannot get a break with his car. First, the flat tire and now this. Daisy screams at him that he's supposed to be at his grandmother's and we get a simple explanation that his grandma has a migraine and that he called to tell her, but she was out. (See, this wouldn't have happened if texting existed!) He also introduces the girl he's with as his sister. I thought he was lying and we were going to later find out that the girl isn't his sister, but she is. Despite having two huge barrels of fish and water just dumped into his car, he doesn't seem to be at all mad and gives her a hug after she tells him she messed up and that she's sorry. I guess he is rich so he can just buy another car. I do have to wonder how someone who wasn't so financially well-off would take it? I feel like in most instances the person whose car was ruined would never want anything to do with the person who ruined their car ever again. 

When Kat decides to call in to her job at the pizza parlor because she'd rather hang out with Tim, Daisy is super pissed because she was supposed to meet Charlie's parents that night and now she has to stay and cover Kat's shift. I'm with Daisy on this one. There is nothing more infuriating when you think you're going to be done with your shift by a certain time, but then you have to stay because one of your coworkers decided they don't want to come in and call in. Daisy tries to call Kat (to yell at her, presumably), but the phone is off the hook because Tim and Kat are sitting on the couch talking and eating popcorn and they're not paying any attention to Phoebe who is playing on the floor with her stuffed animals and one of them is "talking" on the phone. We see Charlie stop by the Mystic Pizza (hmm, is the Mystic Pizza close to the Mystic River?) and she apologizes and is worried that his mom is going to think she blew her off. Can't Charlie just tell his parents what happened? I would think his parents would understand if she had to stay and work. 

Daisy does eventually have dinner with Charlie and his family and she gets to meet his parents, his aunt and uncle, his sister (again), and his little brother, Steamer (terrible name!), who is played by a 17-year-old Matt Damon in his first movie. They're having lobster and it is amusing because just before this scene Daisy was looking in her own fridge where there are so many lobsters that her mother had caught and she complains that lobster is the only thing they have to eat. Daisy is dressed up in an off-the-shoulder black dress and these huge sparkly earrings. The family has a Portuguese maid named Theresa who knows Daisy (of course they know each other even though we've never met Theresa until now) and she asks Daisy if she's still working at the pizza place. This prompts Charlie's dad to tell her that Charlie never told them she was in "the pizza business". Soon Charlie and his dad start arguing about him not finishing school and as this is going on, Theresa is scooping sour cream onto the plates of the diners to go with their baked potatoes. This is the weirdest thing; rich people in movies are so weird. I'm sure these people are perfectly capable of scooping their own sour cream onto their plates. But they only have her doing that because she accidentally drops a dallop of sour cream onto the arm of Charlie's uncle. His wife mentions how "These Portuguese girls are hard to train. I had one that barely spoke...." she trails off either because she knows she's being horribly racist or she knows Daisy is Portuguese and better shut up. Charlie and his dad continue to fight until his dad tells him, "That's enough" and Charlie says, "I guess that means dinner is over" and as he says this, he gets up and pulls the tablecloth from under the table and all the dishes crash into each other. A furious Daisy gets up and leaves with Charlie following her outside and she accuses him of using her to get to his dad and that his dad didn't cheat him out of law school; he did that on his own. Before asking for a ride home from Theresa, she tells him, "You're not even good enough for me." 

Daisy will get a happy ending when she and Charlie reconcile. During the reception for Jojo and Bill's wedding, he comes to apologize and tells her she was right about what she said about him and his father. 

So while all the storylines with the girls and their love interests are going on, of course, since this film IS called Mystic Pizza, we do get scenes of them working there and wondering what the secret ingredient their boss and the owner, Leona (Conchata Ferrell) puts in the pizza that makes it taste so good. She promises to tell the girls what it is when she retires, but for now, it's going to remain a secret. She claims that her grandfather taught her father how to make the pizza and her father taught her. I'm guessing it's some sort of Portuguese spice. 

Because it's nearing autumn, business isn't doing so well at the Mystic Pizza and it is mentioned they seem to only get really good business during the summer months with all the tourists. The girls think they should ask Hector Pleshette, a stuffy local food critic who calls himself the Fireside Gourmet to come and critique their restaurant, but Leona is against that idea. However, he does show up, seemingly randomly one day (the day after Kat has slept with Tim only to find out his wife has come home that very night) and orders the Mystic Pizza. I guess when you order "the Mystic Pizza" you get pretty much whatever because there are three pizzas all with different toppings and Leona tells Kat to "take her pick" when Pleshette orders "the Mystic Pizza." You'd think people would be more specific when they order their pizzas. If Kat had asked him what toppings he wanted and he told her to surprise him, then that would make more sense. Also, do they not allow people to buy pizza by the slice at this place? Every time they take pizza to a table, it's a whole pie. They give Pleshette one as well even though he only eats a couple bites of one slice! The initial meeting of the Fireside Gourmet doesn't go well because there's a glass of water with dentures in it. This was established at the beginning of the movie when we learn that Mr. Lopes, a regular customer, left his dentures in a glass of water again. Unfortunately, Mr. Lopes had just been at the Mystic Pizza right before Mr. Pleshette and he (the Fireside Gourmet) has a glass of water with dentures in it and asks Kat to bring him a fresh glass of water. Now I'm not sure if Mr. Lopes had been sitting at that table before the food critic arrived and they just forgot to clear the glass or if Kat had accidentally brought him that glass of water in her daze (this was also the same day she brought the uncooked pizza to that one table). Either way, not a great start! Kat, Daisy, Jojo, and Leona are all watching him eat the couple bites of pizza from the front counter as he writes something in his notebook. When he looks back and notices them all watching him, they all look away, only to return to their obvious staring. After eating a few bites, he beckons Kat over and asks for the check after she asks him if he would like anything else. She tells him she'll get him a box so he can take the rest of the pizza home, but he tells her no. This is why I'm certain this place doesn't let you order by the slice. Surely this guy knew he only needed a couple of bites before he knew what his review of the pizza would be; otherwise why order a whole pizza? It also explains why their sales haven't been up. Of course people are going to be more hesitant to come if they can't order pizza by the slice; who wants to waste all that money on a whole pizza if you're not even going to eat it all? I will say; that pizza does look mighty tasty. 

A few days later, the girls and Lorena (and all the customers in there at the time) are watching their restaurant being critiqued on the small TV that hangs above the front counter. Pleshette begins his review by saying, "The atmosphere was rustic, the service was oversolicitous to say the least." Jojo interrupts to ask, "Is that good?", but is quickly shushed by the others. Pleshette goes on to say, "I am not a pizza person. I am not particularly fond of cheesy cuisine." The Mystic Pizza staff is pretty much resigned to think he's going to give them a terrible review, but he goes on to say that, the pizza, "in a word, is superb" and that it "has a blend of spices I can't quite identify." We get a funny line from Lorena where she says, "You bet your ass you can't!" He gives them four stars, his highest rating. This did not surprise me at all; I knew he was going to love the pizza despite the signs of him not being all that interested in it. As soon as the show is over, they immediately get a phone call from someone asking if they need reservations and it's clear that they will be getting a lot more customers. Hopefully they now decide to sell pizza by the slice. 

Business is booming and so great, in fact, that Lorena gives money to Kat to pay for Yale and tells her she can pay her back later. She also tells her that since she and her husband could never have children, the three of them are like her own daughters and wants to help her. 

So Jojo and Daisy get their guys, Kat gets the money to attend Yale, and Leona gets good publicity The movie ends with the girls laughing and wondering what Leona puts in her pizza as the secret ingredient.


  1. I found your Blog searching for why Charlie was mean to Lorna, for really no good reason lol... then I stayed for the similar cinematic thoughts lol. In other words, 'you had me at tool'. I watch a lot of "comfort movies" on repeat at times, and I'm always noticing funny little things like that, sometimes I write about them, but not as often as I should. Great post, kudos fellow Cinephile 😁🤣😂

  2. Thank you so much! Glad you enjoyed my review of this movie!